Travel Tats App

This project was created for CareerFoundry’s UX Design Immersion course in 2020. The project brief was to create an app that allows users to find tattoo artists and inspiration. The objective was broad, so I chose to narrow my focus to users who have an interest in tattooing outside their home country.

Project Overview

  • Objective: Design a mobile app for searching and collecting tattoo design inspiration and artists.
  • Finished Product: Hi-fidelity prototype
  • Timeline: 9 months
  • Role: UX Researcher & Designer

The Process:

Problem Statement & Hypothesis

To narrow my focus on traveling tattoo-seekers, I had to define what exactly sets them apart from other users.

Research & User Interviews

User surveys gave me a better understanding of the fears and concerns of the general population when it comes to getting foreign tattoos. Language barriers and cleanliness were important, but it was interesting to find that language differences alone were not necessarily enough to turn someone off if they felt their artist could understand their tattoo vision.

By conducting in-depth interviews with 5 individuals who had either already gotten a tattoo abroad, or were considering it, I was able to understand how those decisions are made and what tools would make the process easier.

I used affinity mapping to break down my findings.

User Personas, Journey Maps, & User Flows

Taking the overlapping perspectives from my user interviews, I created 3 distinct personas to represent the types of users who would by interested in my Travel Tats app.

Some users start by finding the right artist and some seek out the perfect artwork, some research for years and some make their decision spontaneously when the time feels right, but across the board the artist’s reputation and trustworthiness are key. Since my app was for travelers, and personal recommendations would be hard to come by, I needed to find a way to build trust digitally.

Walking through the user journey for each persona helped me understand the specific tools each was likely to use during their search.

Addressing each persona’s needs, and the user flow that would fulfill each need, pointed me toward the most important aspects of my app: customizable content search, in-depth artist information, and trustworthy reviews.

Site Map & Wireframing

Drawing out a site map helped me better organize the architecture of the app and understand how the different areas would interact together, moving from searching content, to researching an artist, to learning about laws, regulations, and safety in the artist’s area.

Prototype Development

While I sketched out a few rough wireframes by hand, I quickly moved onto mid-fidelity mockups in Balsamiq to dive into the more complex setup of each screen.

As the design progressed, I added additional text details, placeholder graphics, and prototype interactions in Adobe XD to bring the design to life. This high-fidelity prototype is what I used for my first round of user testing and design feedback.

Usability Testing

To check for errors and ease of use, I recruited 6 testers from my personal network for in-depth testing of the Travel Tats prototype.

My objective was to find out:

  • If users could easily search and filter content
  • If users could successfully leave a review for a tattoo artist
  • If the artist profile met the user’s needs and expectations

Participants were chosen based on their fit with the target user group, with three exceptions. One tester was over the age of 45, to test accessibility, and two had never been tattooed, to make sure the copy didn’t contain too much jargon.

Errors were ranked in severity based on Jacob Nielsen’s scale, and resulted in changes to the search function (adding breadcrumbs to the top of the screen), onboarding (adding a mask to separate the background from the coach notes), and artist profile (removing the header background for better readability).

Final Mockups



I started this design thinking that the main differentiator from other apps was the ability to find artists while traveling. It turns out, many of the features that would make a user more comfortable finding tattoo artists abroad are universally helpful for all tattoo seekers – such as search filters and detailed reviews.

As the app continues to develop, I know that an area for concern is the subject of privacy. Tattoos come in all types as far as content and placement, and there may be user-uploaded content that is inappropriate for younger users. Not to mention that tattoos are sometimes highly personal and private to begin with, and uploaders should be protected from image theft.

My biggest takeaway from this project was how much incremental changes can change the user experience for the better. Things like font size, text placement and object shadows can mean the difference between a stuck point and a frictionless design that goes utterly unnoticed (in this case, a good thing).

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